Thursday, May 28, 2015

My Favorite Dollar Store Buys...


I have a confession:  I loathe 'dollar stores'.  As luck would have it, I believe we live in the town with the most dollar stores per capita.  We have a Dollar Tree, Dollar General, TWO Family Dollar's and a 99 cents only (where everything is really $1) in a town of about 50,000.  That's 1 dollar store for every 10,000 residents if you're into statistics. 

Dollar stores are big business.  In 2011 Family Dollar stores reported net sales of $8.55 billion.  Dollar General's 2011 FY sales were $14.81 billion.  That's a lot of stuff! Dollar General positions itself in rural areas, some of which are too small for a Walmart, which makes it the go-to store for all things bargain-y.

Dollar stores have even made it into the blogosphere.  Blogs like Dollar Store Crafts, & Dollar Store Mom feature really neat crafts using supplies from dollar stores.  Many are kid friendly which I know I like.  Many of the crafts are so amazing you would never know they were so inexpensive.

While I don't personally care for dollar stores there are a few things for which I will venture into one of them.  Remember, I am pretty frugal and there are some things I just don't like to shell out a lot of money to purchase when it's not necessary.  So, the things I'll buy at the dollar store are:


  1. Party goods. $1 for 8 paper plates that will get tossed in the trash? You bet.  $1 for a plastic table cloth that I won't feel guilty wadding up and throwing out?  Sold.  Anything that has a short life is something I want to spend as little on as possible.  In my experience, the dollar stores have great color selections for any type of party goods.  It's the #1 thing that will get me into a dollar store.
  2. Gift wrap & Greeting Cards.  This is along the same line as party goods.  Do I want to spend $5 on a gift bag? No way!  I have found lots of cute gift bags and tissue at the dollar store and it's another thing I'll head in there for.  Wrapping paper is hit or miss for me since some of the paper is really thin and I find using it difficult without ripping the paper. (For wrapping paper I usually head to Target and find some on sale for a couple of dollars.)
  3. Goody Bag items.  Dollar stores are great for the little tchotchke items & candy that end up in goody bags.  Also, prizes for party games. $1 puzzles or books?  Great prizes.
  4. Beach toys.  Plastic sand castle building kind of toys can be found at the dollar stores & since they are the type of things that get lost why spend a ton on them?  I have also found the foam pool 'noodles' for $1.  Beats $3 or 4 any day.
  5. Cookie sheets. Sounds weird.  I use Pampered Chef baking stones for all my cookies so I went for quite a while without a metal cookie sheet.  But sometimes you just need one.  The one I got at the dollar store has been used for crafts and on the grill.  The last thing I want to do is ruin a $30 Calphalon cookie sheet by using it on the grill.  
  6. Aluminum Pans. You know, the kind you can bake a lasagna in and give to a neighbor without worrying about having to get your pan back?  They are great for that as well as for a pot luck dish to take to a party.
  7. Gifts. The past few years we have picked a lot of names of our church Angel Tree.  It really adds up dollar wise but we want to participate so I've been able to make great theme gifts from Dollar Store items.  This is especially nice for younger kids who don't care so much about brands and just want toys- like coloring books and crayons, playdoh & stuffed animals. For older kids I have done an itunes gift card and a $1 pair of ear buds.  They come in fun colors and when they are lost (which, inevitably, they are) it's not a huge deal. Other great gift ideas are nail polish, soaps and lotions.
Are you a dollar store shopper?  What are your favorite buys?

Friday, May 1, 2015

Kids Birthday Parties Gone Wild....


Birthday Party


I'm sure everyone has seen this demanding email by now.  After reading it I first thought 'poor child' and then it started me thinking about birthday parties in general for little people.  I don't know about you but birthday parties when I was younger meant some cake and ice cream and opening (modest) gifts for the lucky birthday girl or boy. Times have changed, yes?  For the better?  Not really.

We've all heard about the parties for celebs kids which are over the top outrageous but how many of us have been to a party with the same outrageous-ness (new word I just made up) just on a smaller scale?  In a world where bigger is better how can we top a really BIG fest next year?  People spend hundreds and thousands (!) of dollars on their little prince or princesses parties.  There are even party planners for kids birthday parties.  Who knew?

We've done big parties here and small ones and I think the smaller ones are more memorable for the kids.  The year we did a 'field day' type of party and I believe every child we've ever met was invited (and attended) was they year I said 'enough'.  Since then I've tried to keep it smallish.

Until a party planner was born.  When my daughter turned 13 in January she wanted to go all out. Oy!  But she did everything herself and we kept the costs down (I'm good at that!) I'm wondering what next year will bring?

One thing I know is that the Dollar Tree is your best friend when planning your party budget.  It's the best place to get all the paper products for the fete.  Remember, it all gets thrown out about 5 seconds after you serve that cake so why pay an arm and leg for it?

The other thing I know is that I have never and will never send you an email with my gift demands for my precious little angel.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Fixer Upper...

Source

Just when I was about to call Directv and tell them to take HGTV because it wasn't worth watching, 'Fixer Upper' miraculously showed up.  Oh happy day!  I just love this show!  Chip and Joanna Gaines are a hoot!  And the work they do is pretty darn fabulous.


Source

My favorite thing about this show is not Chip and Joanna, or Joanna's awesome style but the fact that they find homes in price ranges that are more middle America than what we see on Property Brothers or Love it or List it.  A $200,000 budget is not uncommon.  They find a house that's $120,000 or so leaving them $80,000 or so for renovations.  Pretty cool.  And pretty easy to relate to for many of us. Million dollar budgets?  Not so much.

Chip and Joanna come across some really great fixer uppers.  Almost makes me want to move to Texas!

Source

I love Joanna's style.  She is creative and, being a mom of 4, she understands that homes need to work for families with storage options, family friendly materials and spaces that can do double duty. Joanna's blog is super fun with design tips, recipes and all the other fun things we love.

If your haven't seen Fixer Upper yet, you really should take a gander soon. You can even watch full episodes on HGTV.com .

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Sweet Treats....

www.kraftrecipes.com

When we were younger we made a bunny cake each year.  We started a tradition a few years ago after my husband and daughter reluctantly tried real coconut (as opposed to the flakes from the bag) and low and behold they liked it.  Yippee.  That means we make this cake each year!  I still leave the bow coconut free just in case we have a guest that doesn't like coconut.

I also make these sticky buns for Easter morning.


 It can't hurt to have another 'sweet' tradition!

What are your Easter food traditions?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Easter Bunny Flag (Pottery Barn Knock-off)



A couple of years ago I saw the cutest little bunny flag at Pottery Barn.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) it was out of stock  so I decided it was something I could easily make.  At least something similar and just as cute. This is the inspiration from PB:


Cute, right?

I set off to make my own and I came up with this:


Cute also.  Super easy too.  A quick stop at Hobby Lobby and I was ready to go.  I already had some burlap and white flannel at home.


I traced a bunny silhouette on the flannel.  I did it freehand but there's bound to be something out there on the internet that will work well.


I stitched the bunny on to the burlap, folded the top of the burlap over to make a pocket for the rod (a dowel and 2 wooden finials), painted to rod black (to give it a wrought iron look) and glued that little bunny tail on to the flannel.


Super quick and easy.  If you don't sew the entire project can be done with hot glue and/or Stitch Witchery.


This makes a cute addition to any Easter decor and even would be cute in a little girl's Easter Basket.

Linking up to Inspire Me Monday at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia.

Friday, March 13, 2015

5 Ways to Take your Table from Everyday to Easter Day...

I love a great table scape. Easter is an especially fun time to make your table extra pretty.  All the pastels make it really fun to put together. Start out with white dinner plates and the sky's the limit.

Here are a few really cute and easy ways to add Easter to your table.

You don't have to go out and buy an entire new set of dinnerware (not a bad idea though, if it's in your budget.)  One or two whimsical little touches will work just fine.  I love this 5 section bunny egg holder from World Market. 


Wouldn't it be cute with dyed eggs in it?  And it's only $6.99.


Be still my heart! I am in love with these little bunny plates from Pottery Barn.  They are perfect right on top of your white plates.


This bunny serving bowl from Williams-Sonoma is just too cute for words.  And there's dinnerware to match.  Perfect!



Add a little fun to your table with these bunny napkin rings from Crate & Barrel.  Wouldn't they be fun with a pastel napkin?


A table runner is a little less formal than a table cloth and this one from Pier 1 is super cute.

So you don't have to spend a fortune outfitting your table for Easter Day, just add something fresh and fun to get everyone in the holiday spirit.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Easy Salsa Recipe...




We try to eat healthy around here but still like a little snack every now and then.  I love chips and salsa and this homemade salsa is really quick and yummy (and makes me feel better about the chip part of the snack).  This is also a great way to use up excess tomatoes.


Super Easy Salsa Recipe

3 Roma Tomatoes (or any ripe tomatoes you have on hand!), chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
Banana peppers, chopped - to taste
About 2 TBSP of juice from banana pepper jar
Fresh cilantro, chopped -  to taste
Salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together.  Refrigerate for at least and hour.

Enjoy!